Nap Eyes :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Over and over again on Nap Eyes' third lp I'm Bad Now, songwriter Nigel Chapman owns himself. In album opener "Every Time the Feeling," he's a "space case," a "loser in a meaningless place." It's worse in "I'm Bad," where he's a "hated son," "a disappointment" who's "so dumb." In "Dull Me Line," he's "bored and lazy." It would seem Chapman is hard on himself. But here's the rub: the new record, which follows 2015's excellent Whine of the Mystic and 2016's   Thought Rock Fish Scale, is the band's warmest and kindest yet. Not only does Chapman write with more interrogative passion about his inner life than many songwriters twice his age, here he expands outward, unpacking religious themes on "White Disciple," pondering connection to others on "You Like to Joke Around With Me," and wondering what becomes of all our big ideas on the beatific "Sage."

The lyrical growth is matched by the group's expanded musical sensibility. Over the shuffling rhythm section of bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton, Chapman and guitarist Brad Loughead  trade shimmering chords and striking melodies. Reliable comparisons to the Velvet Underground and the Modern Lovers don't fail this go-round either, but more than ever before the band's instrumental interplay feels like its own thing: restrained, considered, and riveting. "Please don't ask me to throw my work away," Chapman sings over Salter's rolling bass on album highlight "Judgement," and it's clear why. Nap Eyes is doing the best work of its career with I'm Bad Now.

Recently, Aquarium Drunkard called Chapman up from his place in Halifax, to discuss the spiritual themes of the record, dissect slang terms, and the relative values of turning inward and outward. The conversation has been edited for clarity and cohesion.

Aquarium Drunkard:  I love that the record is called I'm Bad Now.  It's a great contrast to imply. To say "I'm bad now" means, "I was previously not bad. Now I am."

Nigel Chapman: People tend to see things in binary terms often.   With dichotomies in general, with binaries in general, and then specifically [in regards to] badness and morality. That's something I've felt pretty viscerally at the core-of-my-being. I either feel like a good person, like a kind person or a sincere person, or I feel like a totally false or selfish or phony person.  I think having a tongue-in-cheek  acknowledgment of that tendency is a good way to step back from it a bit and look at yourself. And also not expect yourself to be some kind of non-human, you know? A perfect being. Everybody has badness. As you're growing up, there are a lot of things you need to learn. But you're a flawed human being, and once you've learned [those lessons] you don't have to hate yourself for it [or get caught] in that pattern of thinking. The title reinforces that, for me anyway. But Seamus [Dalton], our drummer, is actually the one who created that title.

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